The need to connect with like-minded people is a basic human desire. Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs cites “belongingness” immediately following physiological and safety needs such as food and water. This quest for belonging might be the reason that communities on social media, such as LinkedIn Groups, are so popular.
LinkedIn Groups are the place to be, not only for professionals looking to belong, but businesses aiming to cultivate a valuable community.
What are LinkedIn Groups?
LinkedIn Groups are hubs on LinkedIn which provide a “place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts.”
If you’re looking to find relevant groups to join, simply use the search feature at the top of your homepage or select from the suggestions of “Groups you may like.”
The Benefits of LinkedIn Groups
Whether you’re the owner of a LinkedIn Group or a member, these networks have many benefits. As our post LinkedIn for Business: The Ultimate Marketing Guide explains, “Being an active participant in a Group can help you and your business network with other professionals and businesses in your field, especially those outside of your immediate circle of current and present colleagues, classmates, and employers.”
As a business, having an active LinkedIn Group will help you connect with your customers. In building a LinkedIn Group, a brand creates a forum for their customers and audience to connect. This allows companies to reach a targeted audience of industry professionals and establish authentic relationships with these people. A LinkedIn Group isn’t a place for businesses to blast advertisements - it’s a channel to share content to those who will find it most valuable. This allows for not only higher engagement, but more quality interactions.
You can greatly boost your brand’s name and online reputation by participating in Groups. Search for Groups relevant to your industry to start engaging with posts and members. Once you have made a name for yourself by engaging with the community, you can start sharing your brand’s content and building credibility. Sharing relevant content is also a way to drive more visitors and prospects to your website. These individuals are in a LinkedIn Group relevant to your business, which makes them extremely valuable as potential leads.
Our post, LinkedIn for Business: The Ultimate Marketing Guide, sums this up: “Groups can help you gain insight into your target audience. You can join Groups with audience demographics you think may be interested in your brand’s product or service to see what kind of information the participants deem valuable and worthy of sharing.”
How to Join a LinkedIn Group
Now that you know some of the benefits of LinkedIn Groups, you’re probably wondering how to jump in and get started. First, you will want to use the search field at the top to find Groups that appeal to you. There are two different ways to do this. You can either search for Groups by their name or keyword, or browse Group recommendations provided by LinkedIn.
If you want to search for groups by name or keyword:
- Select Groups from the dropdown list on the left from the search box at the top of any page.
- Enter in your keywords.
- If you need to narrow down your searches, you can do this with the filters on the left side of the search results page.
If you’d rather browse groups recommended specially for you by LinkedIn:
- Hover over the Interests bar at the top of your homepage and choose Groups.
- Click Discover at the top of the page to see your suggested groups.
- To request membership, click the Ask to join button (under the group description).
How to Start a LinkedIn Group
On your homepage, hover over the Interests button and select Groups from the menu. Click on the My Groups button and then the Create Group button on the left of the page. You will be taken to a submission form where you need to upload a logo and fill in information such as your Group name, summary, description, website, location, and visibility. Creating a LinkedIn Group is the easy part. Now you have to start adding and engaging your members.
When you’re first getting started, you need to create a welcoming environment for your new members. Some ways to do this include:
- Provide an easy way to introduce themselves and share welcoming messages
- Engage with new members’ posts to encourage them to share their expertise
- Share the group rules and guidelines so members can confidently participate in the conversation
- Send private messages to new members to make a one-on-one connection
After you’ve established a community with your LinkedIn Group, it’s your job to ensure things keep building. LinkedIn’s guide to engaging and growing Groups suggests the following tips for creating your community:
- Allow members to share your logo on their profiles, as 20 percent of all group growth comes from traffic from member’s profiles
- Only allow group members to post, to create some privacy and exclusivity
- Use your brand’s logo to entice LinkedIn members to check out your group (as they are 10 times more likely to do so when a logo is visible)
- Encourage members to exchange group information on their other social networks
- Send a weekly newsletter to highlight the most valuable discussions that took place in the Group that week
For more information on getting started with your LinkedIn Group, check out LinkedIn’s handy help section.
How to Use LinkedIn Groups
There are many ways to use LinkedIn Groups to benefit your business. As a moderator, there are some best practices to keep in mind.
If the only sound coming from your LinkedIn Group is crickets, it’s not helping anyone. Make sure your Group members are making the most of the Group by:
- Recognizing members and liking or commenting on the content they share
- Using the Manager’s Choice feature to pin a discussion to the top of your Group and highlight the issues that are most relevant to your audience
- Linking your quality group discussions to your other social media channels to encourage new voices and contributions to your discussions
When you’re participating in conversations, whether as a Group member or moderator, you’ll want to keep these tips in mind:
- Ask questions. Make sure they’re specific such as ‘what do you think of the author’s stance in this article?’ instead of more generic or vague ones
- Pay attention. Stay tuned to what others are saying once you’ve started a discussion to keep the conversation going and active
- Stay on topic. Always make sure your posts and discussion points are relevant to your Group
With these best practices in mind, you can begin using LinkedIn Groups in a variety of ways.
Once you find or create a LinkedIn Group, this online community is full of valuable individuals. Each member has chosen to become a part of the LinkedIn Group for a reason, and offer a great chance for you to test out ideas and concepts.
Ask questions in industry-relevant groups regarding potential business ideas and test the waters with a group of intelligent professionals. Your LinkedIn Group presumably hosts a high concentration of individuals who would fit into your target audience, so this is an extremely valuable practice.
Use LinkedIn Groups as a Lead Generation Channel
Make a list of potential customers by using LinkedIn Group’s search function and filter by job title, company, and geographic location. With this list of prospects, you can send personalized messages, see what they’re posting about (to identify their pain points), and build a connection. Of course, prospects will be more receptive to your message if they know a bit about you.
Make sure your presence in the Group is known and that your profile is optimized for lead generation. Have your website clearly visible, and write that you’re open to messages regarding business opportunities.
Find New Employees
LinkedIn Groups are a goldmine of opportunity for employers. Take note of members who are actively participating in relevant conversations. Take even more note of those who can answer questions thoughtfully.
Make a list of these individuals, and see who fits your hiring criteria. Once you have narrowed down your targets, reach out to them and try to make a genuine connection. Comment on their posts (when you have something valuable to contribute) and reach out to them directly.
Build your Brand as a Thought Leader
With patience and hard work you can use LinkedIn Groups to establish yourself as an industry expert. Whenever you see an opportunity to answer a question posted in a Group you are a part of, take the time to respond thoughtfully.
As the moderator of a Group, you’re already on the right track to position yourself as a thought leader. Ensure you’re regularly posting timely and industry-relevant news, whether from your own site or another reputable sources. Post interesting questions and discussion topics, and participate in these conversations once they get rolling.
A LinkedIn Group is the perfect place to grow your online community from a personal standpoint and a business perspective.
By Dara Fontein